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Diriyah Post-Event Notebook

Sam Smith’s final notebook of the season-opening weekend in Diriyah…

Photo: Formula E

***Saturday’s top three finishing order of BMW, Audi and Mercedes drivers ensured that German based teams filled out the podium for the first time in Formula E’s history.

***Alexander Sims’ victory in Race 2 at Diriyah was the British driver’s first in single-seaters since he won the GP3 sprint race at Spa in August 2013.

***The late confirmation of Sims to the 2019-20 BMW i Andretti Motorsport team did not affect his commitment or focus, according to team principal Roger Griffiths. Sims was only confirmed in late September, several weeks after new signing Maximilian Guenther.

“He was always putting the miles in and thinking about stuff and working with his engineers and getting ready for the season regardless of whether things were signed or not. It was really just admin stuff that delayed things a little,” Griffiths told e-racing365.

***Race Director Scot Elkins explained that the Full Course Yellow that was deployed just after the second Safety Car was brought back in was because of a snatch vehicle briefly getting stuck while recovering Robin Frijns’ crashed Envision Virgin Audi.

“The tractor got stuck on some cable routing or something and it backed up and couldn’t go further so they had to re-arrange it,” Elkins told e-racing365. “But we managed it, there was a little miscommunication from the marshals, but we sorted it out safely.”

***Elkins also revealed that curbs had to be repaired and replaced ahead of Saturday’s action after the damage inflicted by the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY field. Additionally, track cleaning vehicles were used overnight to clean the track of excess marbled tarmac which had accrued during Friday’s running.

***Saturday runner-up Lucas di Grassi said that he balanced “risk and reward” when he hounded Maximilian Guenther in the final stage of the race as he looked to take second place.

“If you need to win a championship, you need to calculate wins and returns,” said di Grassi. “I could not finish the race, or I could finish behind him, and maybe he gets a penalty or whatever because he overtook me under the Safety Car.”

***Sebastien Buemi said that he accepted the reasoning for the penalty he received for a dangerous re-joining of the track after being spun out of contention by Antonio Felix da Costa while attempting to take his first attack boost. Buemi was almost collected by Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi while attempting to get back into the race.

“I get it, but when already from my point of view, the mistake is the positioning of the Attack Mode, it’s already wrong,” Buemi told e-racing365. “You get spun around, plus you get another 10-second penalty.”

*** Edoardo Mortara took a double points score from the weekend with a fourth-place classification after Guenther’s penalty was applied. This was despite the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver missing an Attack Mode activation for the second race running.

***DS Techeetah driver da Costa was left to rue what he believed could have been a challenge for victory after he surged into second place from fifth on the grid in the early stages. Da Costa saw his race unravel after getting a penalty for tapping Buemi’s Nissan into a spin. He inherited a point for 10th place after the flurry of post-race penalties.

“I was coming for him [Sims],” Da Costa told e-racing365. “But it didn’t work out. We have to keep believing, we have to keep working because DS has given us an amazing powertrain. It’s fast, it’s efficient, we can race, the car is good, and these guys are winners.”

***In addition to Maximilian Guenther, several drivers got post-race penalties for overtaking while under Safety Car conditions. Robin Frijns, Andre Lotterer and Mitch Evans all received two penalty points, Frijns for overtaking Nico Muller and Lotterer and Evans for making moves on Pascal Wehrlein.

***Mahindra is still investigating why Jerome d’Ambrosio was unable to start the race when he failed to get off the dummy grid from his fourth-place starting position. His teammate Pascal Wehrlein’s race was compromised by the damage inflicted when he was caught up in the aftermath of Sam Bird and Mitch Evans’ accident.

***Brendon Hartley gained his first-ever Formula E points after being promoted to ninth position in the final classification. Hartley’s GEOX Dragon teammate Nico Muller saw his race end on the penultimate lap after he suffered a damaged car after a collision with Ma Quinhua’s NIO333.

***NIO333’s Vincent Wang said that he accepted the penalty for the teams’ error in allowing Oliver Turvey to going over the 200kW power limit which cost the team are points-scoring position.

“We accept the penalty, we think it was the final half of the lap [where] we unfortunately overused the power in the heat of the battle,” said Wang. “We are happy to see our improvement; this is only our start. As a newly formed operation, we are positive for the future, and we are full of optimism.”

***Panasonic Jaguar Racing was at a loss to explain how Mitch Evans’ Jaguar I-Type4 came to be underweight after his Super Pole lap which initially secured fourth on the provisional starting grid. The car passed its slightly earlier post group qualifying session weight check to the 900kgs minimum test which includes the driver.

***Head of Volkswagen Group Motorsport Fritz Enzinger told e-racing365 that he called the CEO of Porsche AG, Oliver Blume, on Friday evening to pass on the message of Porsche’s debut podium result with Andre Lotterer’s third position.

“Yesterday I called him [Blume], and he said it was perfect,” Enzinger told e-racing365. “He was last week in Los Angeles at the motor show. We have on one stage the Taycan, and behind the 99X Formula E car. It was perfect and now we have the first race on the podium, this week, I think it was a perfect start.”

***Diriyah E-Prix promoter Carlo Boutagy says that the date of the third Saudi Formula race, which will open the 2020-21 ABB FIA Formula E Championship season, will depend partly on local exam periods for schools in the city. Diriyah has a contractual agreement to open each season for several years.

“You always have to see with the schools, because here they have exams as well, and we don’t want to be in their exam periods, because that will then ruin everything for us,” Boutagy told e-racing365. “We’re already discussing the date, and we want to align ourselves. There are also other motorsport events in the region, so we don’t want to overlap with them too.”

***E-racing365 understands that Red Bull Junior Juri Vips is a contender for a seat at the Formula E rookie test in Marrakesh in March. The Estonian driver is currently placed fourth in the FIA Formula Three Championship.

***The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY entry should be bolstered by several new entries during the season. Prospective teams from Japan, the UK and the US are believed to be close to confirming deals to joining the electric SUV series.

“We are in conversation with a potential Japanese entrant joining from Mexico onwards,” said Jaguar’s James Barclay. “There is also activity around a UK team coming on board which is great and from a US perspective there could be something from that side and also a [possible] South American entry too.”

***Julius Baer has extended its deal as a Global Partner of Formula E until the end of the 2022-23 season. The partnership extension comes two years ahead of a planned renewal of its agreement with the championship.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Mr. KnowItAll

    November 24, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    BMW is not a German entered team otherwise the German hymn would have been played, when they won in Saudi Arabia. They are only supplied by a German manufacturer.

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